First Week of the MIREES Program

October 9, 2010

So, I just finished my first week of classes… and so far, so good. The program seems promising. There are three compulsory components for the first year: (1) courses in Statistics; Research Problems and Methods; and State Building, Nationalism, and Development in Eastern Europe; (2) compulsory open lectures which we must attend and then report on; and (3) language courses in either Russian, Slovak, Bulgarian, or Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian.

Monday, I attended one of the elective courses being offered this semester: Community Participation and Social Trust in Eastern  Europe. Seems interesting– sociology-based. Main topics include social capital and social trust, globalization, and democratization of post-socialist countries. The professor (Antonio Maturo) is Italian. He actually spent some time at Brown University as a research fellow and has been to Greenpoint, so we have some common stomping grounds. I’m still not sure if I’ll stay in his class, since it doesn’t fit into my program of study, but an option might be to just follow it and then abstain from taking the final exam. I’ve only attended two classes so far, so we shall see.

I also went to my first class of Russian on Monday. I was thrilled to find out that the program is offering an introductory-level Russian course, since initially, only Russian advanced was listed. The course is being taught two days a week by two professors, working in concert. One is Italian (Berardi), the other is Russian (Buglakova). It was only a short introductory meeting, but this coming Monday, we start with the Russian alphabet(!) Exciting!

Professor Bianchini–director of MIREES–is teaching two courses this semester: Post-Socialist Transition and EU Enlargement Eastwards (elective) as well as State Building, Nationalism, and Development in Eastern Europe (compulsory). The former will mainly explore both the supranational as well as the regional dimensions of recent EU enlargement (mainly the enlargements of 2004). The latter, which is a compulsory course, will begin with the 19th century and the Narodniks and follow through to Gorbachev, focusing on the social/political dimension of development in Eastern Europe.

Lastly, we had our first compulsory class of Statistics with Professor Luciano Picci. So far, it was just an introduction of basic terminology. I’m excited about this class. The professor speaks English very well and is really organized and to-the-point. I mean, he is an economist, after all.

All in all, the first week was low-key: course presentations, introductions of basic concepts, a few readings.

By the end of October, we are required to choose a study plan from one of three curricula: Economics; Politics and International Relations; and History, Media, and Cultural Studies. One course from both remaining curricula is compulsory. The program is a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe, afterall.

I’ve chosen the Politics and International Relations curriculum, and preliminarily would like to focus on “Political Transition, the EU, and Security.”  Courses in this study plan include National Political Movements in East-Central Europe; Regional Policies in East Central EuropeSecurity Building in Central and Eastern Europe: NATO, Russia and the EU; and The US, USSR and the «New Europe». We shall see, however. I still need to consult. But I’m ready to get going!

This week was also the welcome week for ERASMUS and international students. There were some planned events and we all got to mingle. It was nice to get out and away from student loan issues… let’s just say that international institutions and American loan companies don’t mix.

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